Articles | Volume 2, issue 1
18 Feb 2009
 | 18 Feb 2009

The horizontal resolution of MIPAS

T. von Clarmann, C. De Clercq, M. Ridolfi, M. Höpfner, and J.-C. Lambert

Abstract. Limb remote sensing from space provides atmospheric composition measurements at high vertical resolution while the information is smeared in the horizontal domain. The horizontal components of two-dimensional (altitude and along-track coordinate) averaging kernels of a limb retrieval constrained to horizontal homogeneity can be used to estimate the horizontal resolution of limb retrievals. This is useful for comparisons of measured data with modeled data, to construct horizontal observation operators in data assimilation applications or when measurements of different horizontal resolution are intercompared. We present these averaging kernels for retrievals of temperature, H2O, O3, CH4, N2O, HNO3 and NO2 from MIPAS (Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sounding) high-resolution limb emission spectra. The horizontal smearing of a MIPAS retrieval in terms of full width at half maximum of the rows of the horizontal averaging kernel matrix varies typically between about 200 and 350 km for most species, altitudes and atmospheric conditions. The range where 95% of the information originates from varies from about 260 to 440 km for these cases. This information spread is smaller than the MIPAS horizontal sampling, i.e. MIPAS data are horizontally undersampled, and the effective horizontal resolution is driven by the sampling rather than the smearing. The point where the majority of the information originates from is displaced from the tangent point towards the satellite by typically less than 10 km for trace gas profiles and about 50 to 100 km for temperature, with a few exceptions for uppermost altitudes. The geolocation of a MIPAS profile is defined as the tangent point of the middle line of sight in a MIPAS limb scan. The majority of the information displacement with respect to this nominal geolocation of the measurement is caused by the satellite movement and the geometrical displacement of the actual tangent point as a function of the elevation angle.